Zoned Out: Reforming Utah’s Housing Regulations1

Overbearing zoning and housing regulations are causing home prices to skyrocket in Utah, pricing many out of the housing market. You could say that potential homebuyers are “Zoned Out” from homeownership. Prosperity Utah’s “Zoned Out” initiative aims to reform zoning and other housing codes along the Wasatch front to allow the market, not government planners, to determine what housing needs are best for Utah. Removing government barriers will allow supply to meet demand, causing prices to fall and improving the quality of life for Utah’s residents.

The Problem

Utah faces a housing shortage of 50,000 homes. This lack of supply is drastically increasing home prices in Utah and is projected to raise the cost of the average home to $730,000 over the next 24 years. The Kem C. Gardner Institute indicates that “zoning ordinances, in no small measure, control the supply of housing through land use, density, and design regulations.” These regulations, more than any other local policies, govern the annual supply of single-family and multifamily housing. They provide a powerful policy tool to increase the supply of housing.

 

Prosperity Utah is launching “Zoned Out” to work hand-in-hand with cities to reform their zoning ordinances and other housing regulations, increase the supply of housing units, and decrease the price of the average home in Utah, allowing more families to own a home in their community.

The Solution

To make this vision a reality, Prosperity Utah will:

 

Identify: Prosperity Utah will research burdensome ordinances of 10 target cities in Utah and identify which ordinances do the most to restrict the housing supply. We will then craft recommendations for how those cities should reform their most egregious and restrictive codes.

 

Educate: Through events in targeted cities, billboards, radio, social media advertising, op-eds, and earned media, Prosperity Utah will educate the public on the need for local regulatory reform. Our goal is to create a statewide narrative that housing codes need to be reformed and that municipal leaders need to support reform efforts.

 

Persuade: By meeting directly with Mayors, City Council members, and municipal staff, Prosperity Utah will seek to persuade these decision-makers to reform their codes to decrease the cost of home building in their localities and increase the supply of housing.

 

Track Progress: Identifying ordinances, educating the public, and meeting with local officials is not enough. We need to follow up to make sure housing ordinances are actually reformed. Prosperity Utah will create a database of housing codes that need to be changed and track our progress in getting them changed. This will be critical to keeping the pressure on decision-makers until they do in fact reform these codes, ensuring that we are achieving our goals, and seeing our efforts through to completion. Once successful, we will scale our efforts to include additional cities.

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